La Mirada Man’s “Christmas Vacation” home attracts visitors and city scrutiny

The glow danced across the faces of the children and adults who gathered on a recent December evening at what has become an annual Christmas tradition: the transformation of Jeff Norton’s home at La Mirada into an exhibition ” National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation ”.

This year’s design, which includes a fake second story on Norton’s house, was nearly rolled back by code enforcement because the addition was unauthorized and deemed unsafe by the Southeast County town of the.

“What does it mean to take this off?” Norton, 46, recently said, pointing to the fake second floor of his house, wearing a red Santa Claus cap. “It means Christmas is over.”

The entire exhibit would have been put on hold if he’d been forced to take down the plastic addition meant to make his house look like the suburban Chicago home in the 1989 comedy starring Chevy Chase.

Norton said he had at least faced a fine of $ 1,200, which he planned to pay, seeing it as the price to pay for maintaining the display.

Jeff Norton’s home in La Mirada features an animated mannequin of the movie character Cousin Eddie emptying his RV septic tank.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

But after receiving a surge of community support, local media coverage – and a Christmas miracle – the town gave in, Norton said. The display can remain in place until January 1 as part of a deal with the city, he said.

“The people of La Mirada really stood up for me,” said Norton, who receives donations from guests at his exhibit and in return distributes merchandise such as commemorative magnets or the moose glass mug used in the show. movie. Norton jokes that he stopped counting how much money he spent on his passion project, but estimates it to be around $ 100,000.

The town of La Mirada did not respond to numerous requests for comment to corroborate Norton’s timeline of events.

Fake snow falls on Jeff Norton’s house in La Mirada. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Since 2018, Norton has wowed neighbors and visitors with its elaborate display, which shines like a Christmas beacon in the quiet suburban neighborhood. Staged scenes from the film can be found in Norton’s front yard, Completed featuring mannequins dressed as characters from the wacky comedy, as well as vehicles from the film and a wall of Christmas lights.

Characters include Clark Griswold, played by Chase in several “Vacation” movies as the father at the center of all that’s wrong, and Cousin Eddie, played by Randy Quaid, who is propped up near a motorhome emptying a false septic tank on L’allée de Norton.

Norton’s 1972 Ford Condor RV looks like the one in the movie, having been salvaged from a campground where it stayed for 20 years, before rescuing it, Norton said.

“I started with an RV and a regular store mannequin,” Norton said. “I noticed there was some excitement, then I went out and bought three pallets of lights.”

Norton jokes that he and his wife got divorced, not because of the Griswold Exposure, but because of his “childish actions.” He says his daughters love the makeover of the house, but they think he’s a little bit crazy.

Norton, who works in the sale of vintage cars, painted his house the same shade of yellow as the Griswold house and installed green shutters. For the holiday season, a station wagon and police car are parked out front, with other models dressed in various poses from the film, like Griswold in a hockey mask holding a chainsaw ready to cut a Christmas tree that won’t fit. in her living room, much to the dismay of her yuppie neighbors, also represented with mannequins. And the scene where her boss is wrapped in a bow in a holiday gesture gone awry.

Visiting Paramount Kizzy Peterson took a selfie outside the house as fake snow rained down from pumps installed by Norton.

“The owner really put a lot of time and attention into it,” said Peterson. “At this time, it brings a lot of holiday spirit. The detail is impeccable. I don’t think he missed anything.

Daughter and mother, Myranda and Minerva Zapper, of Cypress, have visited “Griswold House” since 2019. As a sign of true dedication, they have brought crowds of family and friends to view the exhibit.

Visitors take photos of Jeff Norton's home in La Mirada.

Visitors take photos of Jeff Norton’s home in La Mirada.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

“Last year we brought in a group of about 20 of us,” Minerva said. “I love it.”

“I love how colorful it is,” Myranda said. “Everything they put in this house, it just makes it wonderful, and very wow.”

Albert Saldovar, from La Habra, said his 27-year-old son Damian recently watched “Christmas Holidays” for the first time. His parents watched and laughed as he stood in awe of the display.

“They told me it was hilarious, awkward, funny movie,” Damian said. “This house is a pretty good replica of the movie. If you’ve seen the movie and want to see the movie in real life, come here.

Several Norton neighbors, who did not want to be identified, said they were enjoying the Griswold show right outside their front door. A woman said the lights didn’t bother her, but the crowds can get a little annoying.

Another neighbor said it makes traffic and parking a headache while on vacation. Norton’s house is located in a cul-de-sac and the entire street is blocked off to allow pedestrians to view the signage from the street.

A 1989 Los Angeles Times review highlighted how “Christmas Vacation” merges the images of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” into one visual gag.

For Norton, the marriage of seasonal sentimentality and scorching humor that is “Christmas Vacation” makes it a timeless classic.

“This film is made for Christmas. I can watch ‘Home Alone’ and do all that, but for me ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ is the funniest movie, hands down, dot com, ”Norton said. “I love that movie.”

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About Brad S. Fulton

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